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Open Broadcast Studio OBS Tips and Tricks for Fonts and Backgrounds

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Ok, I've been using OBS for six months now particularly for those times when Zoom backgrounds are not enough (or when I'm using Google Meets which doesn't have much in the way of backgrounds. Sadly, Slack video is particularly awful, it doesn't understand virtual cameras at all). But here are some tips and tricks to this simple use:

  1. Get NDI which provides a networked virtual camera output. This works well with OBS to provide outputs to aware applications like Google Meets.
  2. With Zoom, the latest versions are pretty good, they have avatars now and their backgrounds are good. The main trick here is to put your Zoom backgrounds into a Google Drive so that no matter what machine you have you get the same local backgrounds because the link names don't change from machine to machine.

Build some text, video capture and audio capture elements for each scene

Building a set of Scenes. The other trick with OBS is how to organize your various backgrounds:

  1. Unlike Zoom, you don't get a simple list of backgrounds you can just click on. Instead, you have to go to the lower left and hit the Plus icon in the Scenes menu, this gives you the ability to put a different background.
  2. Then you can add a Media Source and then browse your videos. The trick here again is to stick them into a Google Drive so that the URLs don't change all the time.
  3. Then you click on Sources and the plus icon to add video and audio sources. What I do is define one video source for my webcam and then another for the built-in MacBook camera. Then in each scene add both and then the visible icon (it's the eye in the Sources menu) lets you turn them on and off. So this works for both at the desktop where you are using a dedicated nice webcam and on the road. For the local webcam as an example, you can right-click and set the filter to add a Chroma Key if you have a green screen background.
  4. Note that video and audio sources are shared, so once you create the audio and video sources, you just choose plus and video source and then Add Existing to get one. You don't have to create a new source for each background.
  5. The same goes for audio as well, just choose Add Audio source. And make sure that you add a Noise Suppression filter and use RNNoise, this does keyboard click suppression (its the poor man's version of the Zoom high mode which gets rid of keyboard clicks decently well). It is set to suppress at -30dB, turn it up if the clicks are really loud. I also add Noise Gate as well which cuts off all noise when you are not talking. That is if there are no loud noises, you won't hear distant dogs barking. As an aside, you can see if this is working by looking at the Audio mixer, if while you are typing, you see the volume bars move, then move it up from -30dB, but not too much.
  6. Getting your logo into the screen view is a little complicated. You basically create add font types and with OBS, you get all the fonts that are on your local machine, so if you need a specific font, you can do a brew search font to see what is available so for instance you can load nice fonts like font-source-sans-pro or font-alekysc-sc. They have most of the Google Font libraries on Homebrew.
  7. You can change the font colors, but it isn't clear how, but in the Add Text, you have to actually scroll down to see the colors, there are two, so you can have logos which wash from one color to another. For instance, you can type in a hex code like #0047ab for indigo and then you get a nice logo. Note that for each font change you need a different text box, but you can reuse these in each scene

Once you have these scene types, then you can duplicate the scene and change the Media Source which is the actual background. Pretty complicated, but then you can easily transition between scenes like a pro!

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